That sharp, stabbing pain you feel immediately after an injury is called acute pain, and it is caused by nerve signals indicating tissue damage and alerting your body that you’ve been injured. As you seek treatment and your body heals, the pain fades away quickly.
Chronic pain is different—it is that relentless, persistent pain you experience day in and day out. This type of pain is defined as pain lasting more than 12 weeks. The right type of chronic pain treatment can help relieve ongoing discomfort and improve your quality of life.
What is Chronic Pain?
With chronic pain, your nerve signals keep firing. And this type of pain usually occurs when you have a past injury or after surgery. You may have nerve damage or fibromyalgia, where you feel muscle pain throughout your entire body. Many people with back muscle and spinal injuries have chronic pain, as do people with arthritis. Finally, migraines and other headaches cause chronic pain, and infections can cause this type of pain as well.
Physically, chronic pain may come and go or may be persistent. Symptoms can be mild to severe, from a dull ache or soreness to a throbbing, burning or shooting pain that is very severe and never goes away. Because it is always there, chronic pain can substantially impede a person’s movements because it is too painful to move a particular joint or limb. As such, the range of motion can be significantly impaired, and the pain can even limit your ability to walk, sit or stand.
Emotionally, chronic pain takes a big toll. Just imagine what spending every day in constant discomfort would be like. Sometimes people experience other physical symptoms that accompany persistent pain, such as weakness, lack of energy and trouble sleeping. Lack of appetite can also occur, and all of these physical symptoms can lead to fatigue and mood changes. Understandably, people become impatient, irritated and depressed because of the limitations imposed by having chronic pain.
Depression can quickly set in as it becomes challenging day after day to perform even the simplest basic functions. You might miss a lot of work, or not be able to work at all. When pain becomes severe enough, it is hard for the person to find a solution to the pain or to getting things done while experiencing the pain. Pain interferes with your ability to think, too, so you may have difficulty focusing on simple tasks. Because many chronic pain sufferers do get temporary relief during sleep, it is not uncommon for someone to start sleeping more and more, particularly during the day.
When things just become too difficult, people try to simplify their lives down to the bare necessities. Chronic pain sufferers usually begin limiting their daily activity. Something as simple as running to the grocery store to buy milk and eggs becomes too difficult. People also cut themselves off socially because they don’t feel well, they’re depressed, and they don’t have the energy for social interaction. Sometimes, the pain is so bad that the person just wants a quiet place to suffer in silence. Unfortunately, the lack of interpersonal communication can lead to depression as the person begins feeling cut off from the outside world.
Sadly, millions of people live with chronic pain. Nearly 15 percent of Americans are estimated to suffer from chronic pain. Pain like this that persists day after day is life-altering. The news media often reports about the high cost of heart disease or diabetes, but chronic pain is estimated to cost more than $600 billion per year, according to a recent study in the Journal of Pain.
One of the nasty complications of chronic pain is that this type of pain sometimes does not respond to traditional treatments. Most patients try all kinds of over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, or even steroids. Some have surgery. Many do find relief by visiting a pain clinic which provides a multidisciplinary approach to chronic pain. We see many patients who have reached the end of the road with their primary care physicians, who have run out of treatment options.
First, you must have an accurate diagnosis. Second, early intervention to your pain is key so that chronic pain never has a chance to develop. We use an interdisciplinary treatment regimen that has proven effective in significantly reducing chronic pain.
While our treatment plan depends on your particular source of pain and you as an individual, we offer safe and efficient treatments for health conditions and musculoskeletal injuries. Our regimen combines foundational treatments with state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic treatments.
We also incorporate lifestyle changes that we feel are necessary for your healing, such as dietary changes, sleep improvement, exercise regimen, stress management and social engagement to get you on the road to healing so you can lead a pain-free life.
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